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LOCAL people will have more say in how their railway services are run as the Government hands over more responsibility to local rail experts.
The 32-mile route between Westbury and Swindon – which runs through Melksham – known as the TransWilts line is now a community rail service, the rail minister Paul Maynard has announced.
A new community rail plan will see TransWilts Community Rail Partnership (CRP) working alongside Great Western Railway to design rail services that are benefical to local people.
The aim is to increase passenger numbers, improve connectivity to key destinations and ultimately boost the local economy.
Melksham Station will also see the extra six train services each way per day, which have been on trial since December 2013, made permanent. Two further services will also be introduced in May, adding to Melksham’s rapidly improving train station.
Melksham resident and community rail officer for TransWilts Community Rail Partnership (CRP) Graham Ellis said, “Now that the service is permanent, it means that businesses and residents can plan ahead and the trains can continue to aid the people and economy of the area.
“Now that the service is designated (and has been described as the fastest growing service in the UK), inputs from the Wiltshire Community can be given due weight through the Community Rail Partnership as it comes to the ongoing enhancement of the facilities and services.”
Paul Johnson, chairman of TransWilts said, “We are delighted to achieve our service designation which recognises the efforts and support of our local members and volunteers in establishing improved local services.
“Since our service was established in December 2013, passenger numbers have grown rapidly and we have reached our five year target in just two years.
“The designation is important because it formalises the status of Trans Wilts and gives us access to some additional support, including funding. An early priority for us will be to see how our designation can help us improve the coordination between local bus and rail services along our route.”
Passenger services will still be operated by Great Western Railway; however, it will be with the support of the CRP, Wiltshire Council, rail users and other interest groups.